License committee report for January 2008

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Sun Jan 27 21:22:58 UTC 2008

Matthew Flaschen [mailto:matthew.flaschen at] wrote:
> Philippe Verdy wrote:
> > So what is this problematic "mandatory" clause?
> If the suspense is killing you, I suggest reading the archives and the
> OSI site.  Otherwise, the clause is:
> Neither the name of the <ORGANIZATION> nor the names of its contributors
> may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software
> without specific prior written permission.

What is the problem with this mandatory sentence? It's true that the name of
contributors belong only to them, and that if they are provided, that's only
for the purpose of identification of the authors and their protection under
copyright law, but this has nothing to do with the right of usage or
distribution of the software which remains unlimited, even with this

Suppose I write a open-source media-player based on some open-sourced or
free software (like VNC), and arrange it so that it will be used to look for
or organize porn contents. I am sure that the initial writers of VNC will
not appreciate having their names associated with the product, as if they
had endorsed or approved this use. All they will have done is to grant the
right to make that derivation and use, even if they have not endorsed it.

Suppose they don't include this statement and the derived software is found
illegal for use in some country, the initial authors of the originally
licenced software just don't want to be involved in a litigation because of
this derived use that they have not promoted, or endorsed.

Such licence just complements the absence of warranty (or limitation of
warranty if there are some granted or implied warranty): each downstream
user has to endorse himself the use or derivation of the software and all
legal consequences, because the original authors have not made these
derivations, and have NO possibility to forbid such derived use, even if
they are informed or become aware of such use which may become illegal in
some country (but not necessarily illegal in their own country where no such
protection by additional restrictions was expected to be necessary in the
granted rights).

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